Memorial Day at Citizens Cemetery: Observance takes step back in time
PRESCOTT - Meadow Moreno walked among the gravestones with her family during the Memorial Day observance at Citizens Cemetery on Monday, and later, the young girl said she liked the bagpipes and saying the Pledge of Allegiance best.
"When the guns went off, I jumped," said Christina Carter, a young girl who attended the observance for the first time with her mother Terri.
About 300 people attended the observance modeled on a ceremony that took place there 100 years ago.
Men dressed as Rough Riders and women in dresses, bustles and period hats greeted many veterans and community members as they arrived, the Prescott Brass Ensemble under the direction of Karl F. Kaub played patriotic music, and Denise Robinson played the bagpipes.
Arizona Secretary of State Ken Bennett welcomed people to the wildflower-strewn cemetery and told them the observance was based on Dewey Born Sr.'s remembrances of the event he attended at Citizens Cemetery in 1910.
As Bennett named the groups who have members buried in the cemetery he told a little about the group's history, and modern-day members of those groups took part in a procession from the flagpole to the seating area.
Bennett let people know that the Monday Club was a group of women who raised money to build the Carnegie Library here and how they weren't called the Women's Club because that's what the suffragettes were called back then.
Bennett noted that the Moose Lodge celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2010.
When Bennett said the Prescott Volunteer Fire Department was organized after Morris Goldwater's store caught fire, people chuckled.
They also laughed a bit when Bennett said the Salvation Army, which was founded in 1880, had its first meeting in Prescott three years later at The Palace Saloon.
"You go where you have to go," Bennett said.
Other groups in the procession included the Aztlan Lodge, Order of the Eastern Star, Independent Order of Odd Fellows, Benevolent and Protective Order of Elk, Rough Riders, Knights of Columbus, Prescott City Council, Sons of Confederate Veterans and Veterans of Foreign Wars.
Father Daryl Olds of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Prescott gave the invocation, saying, "We remember all those who have given their lives for our freedom. We commend them all to Your care to hold them tightly in Your heart and grant them rest and watch over those they have left behind."
An honor guard made up of area veterans groups, the Camp Verde Cavalry and the Arizona Rough Riders Troop 1-A gathered around the flagpole, and the American Legion Ernest A. Love Post 6 Color Guard raised the flag.
Tyler Thornton, who attended the observance for the first time with his grandmother Debbie, said the raising of the flag was the most powerful moment.
"This one is it for us. We come here with all the family," Debbie Thornton said.
Chief Deputy Scott Mascher, who will officially become sheriff of Yavapai County later this week when Steve Waugh retires, led the Pledge of Allegiance and the crowd joined in as Michael Nache sang the National Anthem.
Bill Haas said he liked how they encouraged everyone to take part and sing along with the National Anthem and other music during the observance.
Aaron Hinojosa, a Prescott High School student, laid the wreath at the flagpole in honor of the fallen.
Prescott Mayor Marlin Kuykendall told the crowd that Memorial Day began as Decoration Day, when people placed flowers and cleaned up the gravesites of soldiers who died during the Civil War, but after World War I the holiday became a day to honor everyone who died in the service of the United States.
Arizona Rep. Karen Fann read from Julia CR Dorr's poem "No More the Thunder of Cannons."
"No more the thunder of cannon, No more the clashing of swords, No more the rage of the contest, Nor the rush of contending hordes; But, instead, the glad reunion, The clasping of friendly hands, The song, for the shout of battle, Heard over the waiting lands," Fann read. "O brothers, to-night we greet you With smiles, half sad, half gay - For our thoughts are flying backward To the years so far away - When with you who were part of the conflict, With us who remember it all, Youth marched with his waving banner, And his voice like a bugle call."
After a salute to the different branches of the armed forces, District 2 County Supervisor Tom Thurman said that Edward Everett - a noted orator of the age - spoke for two hours at the dedication of the cemetery on the Gettysburg battlefield, yet people remember best what President Abraham Lincoln said in just two minutes.
"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation or any nation so conceived, and so dedicated can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives, so this nation might live," Thurman recited. "It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this. But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate - we cannot consecrate - we cannot hallow - this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or detract."
Betty Hurle said afterward she especially enjoyed the reading of the Gettysburg address.
Then American Legion Ernest A. Love Post 6 Color Guard performed a gun salute, and John R. Stevens of the Post 6 Color Guard and Tom Kolsbun of the All Northern Airborne played "Taps."